Midnight Mayhem’s inaugural radial racing at Sydney Dragway

The inaugural Midnight Mayhem meeting was a boon for Sydney’s radial racers

Photographers: Cackling Pipes

Even before the news broke that the Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings crew were heading Down Under to race, our local scene was riding something of a high, as firmly evidenced by December’s Midnight Mayhem radial meeting in Sydney. The first of a proposed series by event promoter Street 20, it was an instant hit that augurs well for its future. In addition to great weather, there was a super-impressive line-up of local and interstate radial cars with their wicks turned up and a fine track for them to throw down on.

Racing was done over the quarter-mile for all classes bar the premier Outlaw Radial class, which ran over the eighth.

Victorian Daniel Szabolics set the internet on fire in the lead-up to the Saturday-night event when his twin-turbo big-block HQ streeter ran an incredible 6.65@214mph over the quarter-mile! That thing is hauling! Let’s not forget, it’s still carrying the stock front suspension, steel bumper bars, full interior and glass. With its proven record of busting out street miles, a case could be made that it’s Australia’s quickest genuine street car.

Unfortunately, it ran out of brakes on an early pass when the ’chutes tangled and sent it within metres of the rear wall at the end of the sand trap.

The second car in Daniel’s pit, his Outlaw Radial Camaro that runs a 481X Pro Line mill and is co-piloted by Frank Marchese, was similarly set to stun. Having entered the mid-three-second zone earlier in the year, the car failed to make any great gains at the previous Kenda meeting due to an issue with the lock-up converter, but came into Midnight Mayhem with a personal best of 3.573 for Szabolics and 3.574 for Marchese.

First round saw Frank take on Andrew Zada’s heavy-hitting ’69 Camaro, which had shown similar form in elapsed times. “I knew we had a race on our hands against Zada, so I put the .57 tune-up in the car and it just bombed the tyres,” Frank laughed.

Next round, Frank faced Wade Wagstaff, who was driving the George Josevski-owned Lexus that had been running as a small-tyre deal in Bahrain. Despite struggling with bump issues, the twin-turbo 481X-powered Lexus, which had run into the 3.90s previously, had no issues taking the win when Frank smoked ’em on the hit yet again.

Johnny Ricca from Race Parts Melbourne was gathering more data on his formidable Pro Mod Camaro, powered by a twin-turbo TKM-built 521ci Hemi with a Brad Anderson bottom end and Noonan heads. The car was originally equipped with 106mm turbos, but Johnny’s team had pulled back to a pair of 98s to try and get a handle on converter issues, and subsequently pulled off a win at round one of the 2022 Kenda 660 Series in Queensland.

At Midnight Mayhem, Johnny came up against Jarrod Wood in his blown small-block Camaro in the first round and lost in a tight one, with Jarrod posting a 3.64 to Johnny’s 3.77@206mph.

“We took this weekend as a test session,” Johnny said. “It’s a big learning curve for us. We ran with the smaller turbos and without the lock-up converter, so once we get a handle on where things are at, we will step the program up.”

Having run a 3.75@208mph without the lock-up, Johnny came into the second round as overwhelming favourite against Steven Smith in the ex-Dom Luppino Mustang, which runs around the 4.30 mark. Unfortunately, the Camaro spun on the hit, recovered, but with just an eighth of a mile to race, got beaten by the length of a front guard.

“Last pass we spun again, but what was good about the pass was we knew by the data that the rear shocks needed to be rebuilt,” explained Johnny. “We are not taking the easy path here with turbos. We could be like everyone else and just go Pro Line and ProCharger and get someone to email us a tune, but that’s not what we’re about.”

Several lengthy breaks between Outlaw rounds forced the meeting to run well past midnight, so the decision was made to drop one of the Outlaw rounds, which seemed kind of weird when they are ‘the show’.

Andrew Zada in the ‘Boogeyman’ Camaro was hot favourite for the win, having already clocked a 3.61, with Paul Mouhayet working his magic on the keyboard. Unfortunately, the 481X Pro Line engine with a massive 144 crank-driven ProCharger broke a lifter. So instead, the final was called between the pair of racers who had won two races each: Jarrod Wood and Steve Smith, the former ultimately taking the win and the $10K prize money with a 3.62 versus a 4.28.

There were some great numbers produced over the quarter-mile on the night, too. The ‘Crusty’ Torana of Mark Drew went 7.02@199mph before the Victorian decided to really turn it up. “Paul Turner had just freshened the motor in the car and we had already been [email protected] coming into the meeting,” said Mark. “First pass we got some fuel under the tyres and we had the thing wound up, so we backed it down for round two. With the soft tune, it went 7.02@199mph, so when we raced Steve Bezzina next round, we figured we’d throw everything at it.

“The car was on a mission, going 1.11 in the 60-foot, 2.93 to the 330, and I had to pedal it when it pushed the front balancer seal out and got oil under the tyres for a 4.57 at half-track. I then edged ahead of Steve with a 7.30 to a 7.40. If I’d been able to stay in it, it was a 6.80 pass for sure.”

All was not lost for Bezzina, though, who left Sydney Dragway with a new personal best for his stunning XW Falcon, a 6.68 at a massive 212mph, as well as the win in the Pro Street Villains class.

There was a strong mix of import cars that put in a bunch of standout passes, including Anthony Maatouk’s GTR going 7.06@192mph, while George Josevski had his billet RB-engined VL singing to the tune of 6.95@195mph.

Wollongong racer Simon Kryger made a solid 6.67 hit on his mega-cube nitrous Torana, although the car sounded like it laid over around three-quarter track to run 192mph. It’s still early days with that deal, and no doubt Kon from Wollongong Automotive Services will get it ironed out.

One of the really impressive passes of the night (at around the midnight hour) was the 1J-powered VS Commodore ute of Chuck Jifkins, tuned by Dale Heiler. Prior to the meeting, the car had run a best of 8.20, but with new rear leaf springs and some more laptop love feeding 39psi into the screaming six-banger on E85, it blasted into the sevens with a 7.93@169mph. Word is he’s out of turbo and about to step it up to a Pro Mod 88 and an SFI case for the Powerglide.

The biggest upset of the night came courtesy of Demetri ‘Dim Sim’ Stamatis and his immaculate VL Calais, who outran the JUN II Skyline from Croydon Racing Developments after a day of personal best times for the VL, culminating in a 7.43@185mph.

Having recently taken on plenty more power, the car looked to be a handful all day, gravitating towards the wall each pass. Once Dim Sim gets the rear end sorted, no doubt the car’s going to fly.

Aside from the issues that caused the event to run long, Midnight Mayhem was a cracker, and no doubt the promoter will get the scheduling sorted for Midnight Mayhem 2 on 19-20 May.